By Chris Mittelstaedt
Let's admit it, the holidays can be stressful. Whether it's your mother and father crammed into the guest bedroom telling you not to go to any extra trouble, and that they can sleep on the air mattress ("although it will most likely set off your father's sciatica"); or it could be your obsessive-compulsive aunt commenting on the lack of doilies on your toilet tank and that the filter on your heater obviously hasn't been changed in months. Whatever the stress point, remember this: get your folic acid, if you don't, it could lead to depression.
Folic acid is a part of the B complex set of vitamins. It's necessary for the formation of blood cells and it may also reduce the risk of heart disease and many cancers. Folic acid is also hugely responsible for helping women have healthy babies. In fact, according to some researchers, supplementing with FA before and during pregnancy appears to reduce birth defects (spina bifida) by 50 percent.
Lately, there is renewed interest in using FA to prevent depression. Medical research has shown that a FA deficiency can cause psychiatric disorders, notably depression.
Researchers discovered that when your brain has low levels of FA, it in turn causes serotonin (the body's feel good chemical) levels to plummet. Low serotonin levels appear to be linked todepression.
The word Folate, or Folic Acid, comes from the word foliage, meaning green leafy vegetables. Spinach, broccoli and peas are great sources of FA. But most of us cook these foods before we eat them and that can destroy almost half the amount of FA. It's very important to get FA from a variety of food sources, some of them being raw foods. Beyond green leafies, another way to get more Folic Acid into your diet is by increasing the amounts of oranges, bananas, grapefruits and strawberries you eat. If we eat a couple of servings of fortified cereals a day, along with five-six servings of fruits and veggies, we should have no problems reaching the RDA of 400 mcgs per day.
So remember, when you are on that flight cross-country; whether you are visiting your kids or parents, traveling with little ones or by yourself. As all the babies on the plane begin to cry and scream as the pressure changes while descending through heavy turbulence, pull out that orange and banana, cut a grapefruit and bring extra spoons because it's the holidays baby and we all need that folic acid to keep us smiling.
Enjoy and be fruitful!